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EVOLUTION

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: David Duchovny, Orlando Jones, Seann William Scott, Julianne Moore, Ted Levine
Director: Ivan Reitman
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1 Surround, Dolby Surround, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Dreamworks
Features: See Review
Length: 102 Minutes
Release Date: December 26, 2001

“If I was a giant, nasty alien bird in a department store, where would I  be?”

“Lingerie.”

“Not you, the bird.”

“Lingerie.”

Film ***

It was 17 years ago when director Ivan Reitman created Ghostbusters, which resulted in one of the most successful box office smashes at the time of its release. Now in 2001, Reitman has returned to the same formula with new characters and an outrageous array of strange looking insects and creatures. Evolution, which actually ended up being one of the years biggest disappointments at the box office, is in fact a witty, engaging, and extremely funny ride of a movie. Reitman, much like he perfected in Ghostbusters, blends together some amazing visual effects with many hysterically funny moments. Many critics were harsh on the movie, saying that Reitman had completely ripped off himself from his 17 year old hit movie. Watching the movie myself, I didn’t feel that way at all, mostly because I was too busy laughing and being amazed at the effects I was looking at.

David Duchovny, in an amazing comedic turn, plays Dr. Ira Kane, an ex-government scientist who now teaches biology at a local community college. Kane’s colleague, Harry (Orlando Jones), gets word of a meteor that hit not too far from the campus, and the two soon begin an investigation of the contents of the meteor. What Ira and Harry soon discover is that the meteor is harboring thousands of slithery, slimy worms that are evolving extremely fast into various kinds of lizards and creatures. The other key player in the scenario is bumbling, aspiring fireman Wayne (Seann William Scott), who was the first to witness the crashing meteor.

The comedic performances are a big part of what makes Evolution a fun experience. Duchovny, best known from his serious work in The X Files, is a pure revelation in a role that allows him to somewhat kid his reputation as a fighter of “extra-terrestrials”. The always funny Orlando Jones continues a streak of funny performances with his character here, who is not only a geology professor, but also the proud coach of the women’s volleyball team, a job I’m sure any man would dream of. Also displaying some klutzy comedic talent is Julianne Moore, playing a rival government scientist who soon becomes an ally of Ira and Harry’s. The movie’s special effects are a pure sight for the eyes. Every alien creature is given a distinct look to it, and each is a knockout to look at.

Evolution is pure fun on all levels. A terrific mixture of sci-fi and comedy, a la Ghostbusters and Men In Black, that is guaranteed to please any fan of the two genres. It’s a movie that truly deserves a better rep than it got in its theatrical run, and DVD is definitely the best form to discover this movie.

Video ****

This is a glorious looking transfer from Dreamworks, who continues one of the top DVD studios. Picture is thoroughly crisp and clear to the max, with no detection of image compression, softness, or grain. The look of the presentation is completely that of a sharp, clear, and all around grand looking transfer, as in the Dreamworks tradition. The numerous scenes involving visual effects are the standout portions of the presentation.

Audio ****

A knockout sounding presentation that will make you believe that DVD quality has truly evolved. The 5.1 digital presentation is that of a purely blasting, audio mind blowing one. It takes about a half hour for the effects scenes to kick in, but all the way through, the sound quality of Evolution is of top quality from scene one to final frame. Standout scenes include one in a shopping mall, and a climatic battle of wits with shampoo. A superb Dreamworks performance!

Features ***1/2

Dreamworks demonstrates near perfection with their list of extras on Evolution. Included is a conversation with Ivan Reitman, David Duchovny, Orlando Jones, and Seann William Scott, which is actually a feature length running commentary, and a very funny one at that. Also featured are six deleted scenes, including an alternate ending, and HBO First Look special on the making of the movie, storyboard selections, a visual effects featurette, photo gallery, and production notes.

Summary:

If you missed it in the theaters, now is a better time than ever to experience the pure fun that is Evolution. Call it a Ghostbusters for the new millennium, filled with laugh out loud moments and some amazing visual effects.